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Jake Mohlmann reports from a successful return to Argentina

January 21: Jake Mohlmann reports from a successful return to Argentina

We just navigated through a hugely successful trip across the southern cone of South America on our latest Argentina expedition. This extensive tour covered the vast pampas grass and wetlands, wind-swept Patagonian steppe, and southern beech forests enshrouding the southern tip of the continental Americas. The scenery was always stunning, and many of the abundant varied habitats offered were thoroughly explored providing an amazing array of regional specialties. One such rarity was the near-endemic Band-tailed Earthcreepers seen on multiple days at Punta Tombo and along the dusty 2-tracks outside of El Calafate. Visiting the barren landscapes around Rio Grande on the island of Tierra del Fuego provided up close and personal views of both juvenile and adult Magellanic Plovers. This year we saw them from the comfort of our comfortable sprinter van as we pulled up to a lakeshore and closely observed this unique shorebird of the southernmost reaches of the planet. The famed Valdez Peninsula seems barren, but the shoreline is filled with life including several colonies of breeding Southern Sea Lions and the bird species that utilize the chance at this ephemeral meal source, such as the 20 Snowy Sheathbills we tallied. Our unforgettable boat trip down the Beagle Channel was filled with nesting pelagic birds including thousands of Magellanic and Imperial Cormorants raising their sea-bound young. Raptors were seen daily and often next to the roadsides. One particularly photogenic species was Cinereous Harrier, sometimes at eye level and quite close. As one heads south the tree line gets lower in elevation. As a result obtaining views of birds normally seen high up with little oxygen are much easier to accomplish. As was the case for an unbelievable encounter with a male Yellow-bridled Finch braving the steep scree slopes outside of Ushuaia. All this makes it hard to believe we packed in so many amazing experiences in just 2 short weeks in southern South America.

Our excited group after seeing an enormous ice chunk slough off the Perito Moreno Glacier

Near-endemic Band-tailed Earthcreepers crossed our paths

Magellanic Plover; A Magellanic Plover feeds on the shores of a salty lagoon

Snowy Sheathbill and Southern Sea Lions; A Snowy Sheathbill feeds on an afterbirth in a Southern Sea Lion colony

Imperial Cormorants and Ushuaia; Productive Imperial Cormorant colonies along the Beagle Channel

A Cinereous Harrier gave us multiple amazing photograph opportunities

This Yellow-bridled Finch came within a meter of some lucky tour participants

Posted: January 21, 2022